God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bella Italia

We are back in Italy after a short foray into another country called France. I have several friends who love France and return often, but it is not a country that makes me comfortable.

Although having been in several parts of the country over the years--crisscrossing from Normandy down to the Riviera, I always feel my role of stranger there. That is not to say I have not enjoyed time spent there; it's just that leaving is never difficult and longing to return doesn't happen.

As we crossed the border into Italy yesterday, there was a collective cheer and sense of arrival. Casey's boisterous shouts of "I'm home, I'm home" spoke for all of us. The scenery was so familiar as we drove the highway with 123 tunnels--more or less. Casey entertained himself by tallying them in a notebook. We ticked off the kilometers to our first stop, two nights in Bologna where I am now hurriedly writing this before we meet a friend for dinner tonight.

We arrived in the midst of a huge, torrential downpour--not what we expected in July. Looking out the window now, it looks as if it may start again. But that's OK--food is still good and gelato is weather proof.

This is sale month in Italy--a great time to be walking through the famous arcades of Bologna--so many tempting windows with shoes and purses and lovely clothes. I found myself wishing that I were 20 years younger and, more importantly, 20 pounds lighter.

I did spend time in a Furla store, hoping to find a purse that called out to me but that didn't happen. Then, there was a necklace that I really, really liked but, having decided to think about it, didn't get back that way--just as well, as it truly isn't needed. But, I think it is one that I will remember and wish I had not rushed on.

Importantly, we did have gelato twice today. I had a delicious tortellini in brodo for lunch--a nice light meal so that I could avoid guilt at the second gelato stop. The ristoranti was one we found when we visited Bologna a couple years ago. It was as good today as it was then.

We tried a different hotel this time--Hotel Porto San Mamalo. Several people on Slow Travel have recommended it and it is a good recommendation. The hotel is charming, the staff is exceptionally friendly and service oriented and the breakfast is surprisingly complete for an Italian breakfast. The only negative is that it is not as well-situated as the Hotel Roma where we stayed last time but then, it is less expensive. With that said, if we return to Bologna, I think we would select the Roma because of its fantastic location, right in the heart of centro storico.

The courtyard of the hotel.

Well--as predicted, the rain has arrived and shortly we need to walk to dinner which, fortunately, is just around the corner. We are joining Susan from Hawaii-our first real meeting as we know each other virtually from Slow Travel.

This may sound strange to some readers; however, over the years, we have met up with many such friends and have yet to meet with disappointment. The year we lived here, people from as far away as Australia, as well as the US and Canada, came to visit and each time it was special. Many of them we have had repeated opportunities to meet when back in the States. So, we look forward to tonight and meeting Susan.

Tomorrow we arrive in Tuscany and to our most favorite place, Sant Antonio in Montepulciano. Our friends Nico and Elena have welcomed us to their lovely, beautiful, delightful property every year since 2001. Casey and their daughter Sophia have grown up together.

We are there for a week and then onto a full month at our "home in Tuscany"--our apartment at Fattoria Viticcio in Greve in Chianti. There we will know that we have arrived.

Now I think I will wait to post this until after dinner so that I can post a picture of all of us.

And...we had a delightful dinner with Susan who made a big hit with Casey. We ate at a cute neighborhood restaurant by the hotel--Osteria 15. Good, simple food--the best kind.

Now, time for bed.


Anonymous said...

Bentornata! I can relate to your feeling of returning to Italy!
Looking forward to reading more,

Rebecca said...

I'm happy that you're 'home' and I can't wait to see what else awaits!

Anonymous said...

I can imagine that the entire time you were in france you were thinking 'Italy is next . . .'. I know that I would be!

I have been hearing so much about Bologna lately that it has got me craving a return to Italy!

I hope that the rest of the trip goes well . . .

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you arriving in Sant'Antonio today. It was just last Saturday that we left, how could we have missed each other by just a week?

We also experienced the unexpected rain in Italy with thunderstorms just about every afternoon, but we had lots of sunshine as well - I hope the same holds true for your visit. Either way we decided that the sun does NOT have to be shining in order to eat gelato!

Have fun, Sheena

Chiocciola said...

Hooray you are in Italy! I am so excited for you! Sounds like you are having a blast in Bologna and meeting Susan must have been great! Say hi to Casey!

Chiocciola said...

Forgot to say - Osteria 15 is great! Glad you ate there.

nancyhol said...

What a cute photo! Now I know what Susan looks like!

You sound so excited to be "home" in Italy - I am very happy for you. Enjoy it to the fullest!

Divina said...

welcome home!

Sunday is the medieval festival at Monteriggioni, evening!!!
and next week is Mercantia in Certaldo another festival within the city walls Casey may like!

Ellen said...

So fun to read of your return to bella italia - have a great time and we hope to see you there when we return to Florence on August 4th. Say hi to Casey from the girls!

Sandrac said...

Great photo, Jane! I hope you had fun in Bologna. (I also had trouble resisting Furla this year, there were so many styles that really appealed.)

Can't wait to hear more about your return to Italy!

barb cabot said...

Jane, I've just returned from our 2 wk trip to visit Mike's family. His dad is recovering and seems very strong now. I am getting caught up with your blog. How wonderful everything sounds and I can feel your joy in returning to your "home" in Italy. I love seeing the photos of you and Susan. Such a nice gathering of slow travellers. Casey looks so tall and grown up. I love following your travels. Be well.

girasoli said...

Hi Jane,

I could have sworn I left a comment on this post soon after you wrote it. It was so nice to meet you and Ken and Casey. I had a wonderful time that evening.

I have been trying to catch up on everything, including blogs since I have returned from Italy. Seems like a never ending theme in my life lately. Starting work again 4 days after returning home was not a good plan.